I kept thinking of this video today as I was drool-napping on my couch.
Today my brain is at maximum saturation, like the sponge in my sink that needs to be squeezed out before it can soak up anything else. What a week: Busy season at work, read during Lit Fest and took my Memoir Boot Camp Intensive.) I’d like to put my figurative self through an old fashioned dryer roller but since I can’t really do that, I’ll just keep napping on and off and hope some brain cells spring back anew.
(Several naps were taken in preparing this first paragraph, for example.)
Today was the last day of my fantastic Memoir Intensive where we critiqued the first few pages of our opening chapter and created a draft of our book jacket blurbs. I have reworked this opening chapter 9 official times over the last two years, not to mention the crumpled pages that led up to the draft being official. And still, work to do.
It feels so rich and nuggety when I get to work with a new craft element (theme, structure, Horizontal Plots, Vertical Plots.) Things excitedly take shape until I hit my first wall. The information gets tangly! Story lines get too dense in one place, too sparse in another. What do I keep in? What do I take out? Sometimes my brain gets soggy from all the information I’m processing. More decisions. More work. More shaping.
Not in a blind perfectionist kind of way, but in a let me deliver this better.
So much rides on the first chapter, the first page. Clarity is needed but under the softness of subtlety and intrigue. You can’t front load too much or the whole piece flips with it.
On break, I said to a fellow classmate: It’s like the ice skaters! They make it look so easy and when they turn they are using every exercised muscle in their body. You watch them and you think, I can do that until you try to balance your body weight on a blade without your ankles shaking.
What I forget is that the skaters spend hours a day practicing and not just for a couple of weeks, more like a lifetime. We might see a rare face plant on TV but mostly it looks effortless. Why? Because they practiced the face plant so much that they’ve learned how to master an artful execution. And so back to the draft until I’m ready for the final surrender.
I’ve loved to write since I was a kid, and have only in the last few years taken it up in a serious way. I have had my share of face plants. I have also avoided total wipe out on the page by the lucky bend of the knee. Words fall together in such a way that the idea survives even if on precarious legs. Inside I clasp my hands in joy when a fellow writer sees what I’m trying to get across. Success. And yet, the revision always seems to loom.
Do you hear my sigh and dragging knuckles?
I’m just a little tired. But no steps are wasted when you’re moving forward.
P.S. Thanks for all the well wishes from so many of you regarding my Lit Fest Participant reading on Friday. It was heart pounding awesome! It was only 5 minutes, but it was a special goal for me to reach. I think it was podcast. So I’ll share the link when it goes up. Awesome writers. Inspiring stories. Supportive audience. Cupcakes and wine. Pinch me.